The NCAA gives a warning that could threaten some large sporting events planned for Tulsa.
This has to do with Oklahoma Senate Bill 2, also known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act.” It prohibits anyone assigned male at birth from playing on women's sports teams.
The BOK is scheduled to host the NCAA wrestling championship in 2023, but if the bill becomes law, that might not happen.
“When you think about the NCAA wrestling in ‘23 coming which we’ve been bidding and preparing for five years, that's $17 million in revenue alone,” said President of Tulsa Regional Tourism, Ray Hoyt.
NCAA Championships like this one have brought more than $27 million to Tulsa in the past 10 years, and future events are already scheduled.
“In the long term, it could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and those jobs because now we don't have that activity,” said Hoyt.
Hoyt said it’s very difficult to get the NCAA Board of Governors to pick your city to host events in, and that could cause a ripple effect impacting hotels and businesses in the area.
"That will be the bigger loss is what would we lose in the future that we don't even get considered for," said Hoyt.
In the statement, the NCAA Board of Governors said the NCAA will not host championships in states that have anti-transgender laws or bills, saying “when determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.”
Hoyt said if Senate Bill 2 goes through, these events would be gone.
“If we want to adopt a transgender policy, then let’s adopt one that’s been approved by the NCAA and other bodies. Therefore, we're in compliance with them and we still get the benefit of having them here and the benefit of having a transgender policy,” said Hoyt.
Former OSU athlete and co-author of the bill, Shelia Dills, says,
"We all want to promote business and economic development opportunities in our state and our local communities, and we certainly love athletics. But we cannot sacrifice our Oklahoma values, which include fairness in sport and the protection of opportunities for women and girls in Oklahoma, for the sake of dollars or even the popularity of such events. Title IX, federal civil rights law, specifically protects women and girls based on the intent of the definition of biological sex. A small section of the population wants to cloud that intent. The NCAA continuously tries to flex its muscles and reshape state’s rights and individual values. More than half of the states in our nation have drafted similar legislation, and this is an opportunity for Oklahoma to stand strong on this issue and provide leadership for others to follow.”
Osage County Representative Sean Roberts also sponsored the bill, and says,
"Allowing men to continue participating in women’s sports would sacrifice our values as Oklahomans, we believe in fairness in sport and protecting our states females so that they have the opportunity to participate in sport without worrying about what gender they may have to participate against. When a transgender athlete participates in a sport, all of the biological females in that sport are deprived of equal opportunity, mandated by title IX. I believe our states females deserve to be protected from those people who wish to take their hard-earned opportunities away behind the guise of “equality” and made up genders.”
Tulsa Representatives Melissa Provenzano, District 79, and John Waldron, District 77, said the OSSAA already has policies and procedures in place which haven’t needed to be applied so far.
“The real situation is that we have kids who need our love and support just like any other kids, and we have to remember that,” said Provenzano.
“The people who are much closer to the problem already know how to address the situation and they can come up with fair rules that don't involve getting into the privacy of our students or discouraging trans athletes from participating in our sports,” said Waldron.
Several NCAA championship events are already scheduled to happen across the state in the next few years.